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Fieldhead Campsite, Edale, Hope Valley, Derbyshire
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Fieldhead Campsite, Edale, Hope Valley, DerbyshireThe Peak District in England's Midlands is the busiest National Park in all Europe. While that may be a surprising statistic to some, those who have experienced its incredible diversity - from peaty bogs and vertiginous cliffs to green fields and billowing hills - will nod knowingly. And right in the middle of this lush, protected countryside is Fieldhead Campsite in Edale, a small but perfectly formed rambler's paradise with access to some of the best walking the district has to offer.

The site is made up of six intimately sized fields set at varying levels on a riverside hillock, with plenty of shelter provided by fences and hedges. The fields include one for families and another across the river for backpackers. Since there are no marked pitches, just pick an area that suits you. It's a small campsite, so nowhere is really far from the amenities block.

Fieldhead is a popular launch pad for the Pennine Way, the epic 270-mile path that starts in Edale and heads north along the Pennine Ridge, through the Yorkshire Dales and Northumberland, before finishing up at the Scottish Borders. The first leg, which stretches from Edale to Cowden, provides a good taster. Meanwhile, the quiet, countryside feel of this campsite is enhanced by the fact that cars are restricted to the car park. Slight downsides include a nearby railway line, so trains can be heard intermittently from some spots; and the insects, which can get a bit friendly around dusk.These are small gripes though, for what is a near-perfect basecamp for the Peak District area.

COOL FACTOR Fantastic walking opportunities from this small but perfectly formed campsite.

WHO'S IN? Tents, dogs (on leads) - yes. Groups - by arrangement. Campervans, caravans - no.

ON SITE The 6 fields include a separate family field and a small riverside field just for backpackers. Hot showers are 20p; there are disabled facilities, a washing-up area, and laundry in a clean and spacious block. No shop, but there's a Spar in Edale. The handy onsite information centre has masses of info on the Peaks area as well as maps for nearby hikes. Quiet time 10.30pm-7.30am. Neither campfires nor BBQs allowed.

OFF SITE Blue John and Treak Cliff (www.bluejohnstone. com), 2 Castleton caverns, are both interesting and have great veins of Blue John stone to see; Speedwell Cavern (01433 620512) is good for young children (no walking-you enter the cavern by boat). Kids will also enjoy the wildlife at Chestnut Centre (01298 814099) in Chapel-en-le-Frith.

FOOD AND DRINK For a hearty breakfast or a light snack the village has two cafes, plus the Rambler Country House (01433 670268) and the Old Nags Head (01433 670291) pubs, which both serve real ales and reasonable food. Slightly further afield, the Beehive (01298 812758) at Combs is a welcoming place to eat, with home-cooked food and cask ales. Croissants and bread are delivered to the site on Sundays.

GETTING THERE Edale is about 10 miles north-east of Buxton. Follow the signs for Edale from the A265. As you approach the village Fieldhead is on the right, just after the Rambler Inn.

PUBLIC TRANSPORT Train to Edale, then a 5-min. walk.

OPEN All year.

THE DAMAGE Adult E4.50-E6.50 (depending on season) per night; child £2.50-£4; car £1.50-£3.50.

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